For those of a certain disposition—daydreaming souls, like myself, who revel in the romance of the underrated and the forgotten—the whisperings this week of a possible sequel to The Order: 1886 came as manna from Heaven. Every time I think of that game, I swoon. It strikes me as a cross between something Rebellion would make, with its sober budgets and drunken passion for genre, and releases like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice or A Plague Tale: Innocence—both of which were narrow of focus, unflustered by ornate mechanics, and lavished with a triple-A façade. As façades go, few require me to pick myself up off the floor like the one draped over The Order: 1886—a sooty, steampunk vision of Victoriana, laminated in a look-but-don’t-touch veneer.
Anyway, at the slightest whiff of a sequel, I couldn’t help but amass a collection of possible pitches for your consideration. For once, the colon often obnoxiously lodged in video game titles comes in handy; slotting the desired date on the other side of it results, in most cases, in a decent sequel idea. But I have attempted to be somewhat discerning in my selection.
1. The Order: 1916 – Europe
Galahad and his comrades join the battle across the Western front, in a series of daring missions for the Allied powers against the nefarious Kaiser Wilhelm, who has, in a beastly bid for victory, cursed his own troops with Lycanthropy. Rasputin, who is, of course, a vampire (explaining why he was, as legend has it, so stubbornly difficult to expunge), makes an appearance for some reason and proves an unexpected ally to the Order.
2. The Order: 1922 – Egypt
The Order is dispatched by the British Museum to the scalding sands of Egypt (giving the developer, Ready at Dawn, a chance to robe its knights in rich tan variants of their classic uniforms, replete with pith helmets and light-cream cravates). Howard Carter’s excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb has uncorked a curse that threatens the world. This would introduce a new classic movie monster, the mummy, to the musty ranks of werewolf and vampire that thronged the streets of London.
3. The Order: 1930 – Chicago
Any game that dares venture to 1930s Chicago risks comparison with TimeSplitters 2, which delivered a deep dish of parody and impeccable shooting, along with the same faux-frontage level design as The Order: 1886. The only hope for Galahad and his cohort is to go as far as possible the other way: show up with upper lips of such stony stiffness, and moods so dour, as to demolish any sense of humour. Their mission is to track down Al Capone in the wake of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre and to see him go down for something sexier than tax evasion. He’s a werewolf, as well.
4. The Order: 1942 – Occupied Paris
Lady Igraine embarks on a solo mission to Paris, in order to act as a saboteur of the Nazi war machine. Her work as a saboteur brings her in contact with the local French Resistance, which also happens to be an underground network of werewolves—France has succumbed to a Pandemic of lycanthropy. Igraine, though uncomfortable with her hairy confrères, is far more concerned with freeing up the districts of Paris one by one, in her capacity as a saboteur. The game would favour stealth over combat, owing to Igraine’s nature as a saboteur, and would feature investigation mechanics to search for clues; the devlin’s in the detail, after all.
5. The Order: 1974 – Washington D.C.
For a knight forged in an era of English glory—a mythical one at that—whose convictions were soured by the stench of corruption within his own party, Galahad is ideally placed in Washington D.C. in 1974. Who better than Galahad, who of course would go by Grayson, to wade through Watergate-era America? His mission: to infiltrate the Disco scene in downtown D.C. (again, Ready at Dawn would be given the chance to ramp up the Order’s uniforms with a tint of Travolta circa Saturday Night Fever) in order to investigate the new scourge of vampires in the capital. To nobody’s surprise, it goes straight to the top. Final boss: Nixon. Location: White House roof.
6. The Order: 1995 – London
The Order is in fine fettle. The round table is restored to regular usage and is now emblazoned with a Union Jack. The knights are basking in Britain’s renewed sense of cultural pride, although Galahad isn’t too enamoured with Britpop, which is in full swing, nor with the rise of the ungallant lad culture of the time. However, there are far more pressing things for him to be dealing with; Tony Blair—who is a werewolf-vampire hybrid—has exploited the Cool Britannia movement to sneak into Number 10, and he plans to destroy the Order and make a bid for global domination, using a machine that controls the weather.
7. The Order: 2077 – Mega-Britain One
The crown in the futuristic British Empire is the sprawling Mega-Britain One, a city stretching from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Brighton. The knights of the order have been co-opted by a corrupt government into enforcing the “peace,” which goes from keeping the streets safe from the cyberwerewolf outbreak to cracking down on political protesters, which agent Ga1-A-h6d feels deeply uncomfortable with. Even Blackwater—the mysterious liquid that grants the knights seemingly eternal life—has its limits, and the agents of the Order have taken to sprucing up their bodies with cybernetic implants. The game’s villain is a recrudescent Margaret Thatcher, who is, in fact, part-vampire, part-cyborg and is using the Order to crack down on the data miners’ strike.